Can Barefoot Running Prevent Injury?

By Ryan Halvorson
Aug 16, 2015

There’s plenty of discussion about whether barefoot running helps runners or harms them. A new report suggests that females may benefit from employing this controversial protocol.

Published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2015; 47 [5], 1009–16), the study looked at gait among 23 uninjured female runners. More specifically, researchers wanted to understand whether structural dysfunctions associated with patellofemoral pain and iliotibial band syndromes were present when athletes
are running barefoot. Those dysfunctions include excessive hip adduction [HADD], hip internal rotation [HIR] and contralateral pelvic drop [CLPD].

The subjects were instructed to run both barefoot and shod at a specific speed while the structural data was collected at initial foot contact and 10% of stance.

Postanalysis, the researchers learned that the runners took about 6 more steps per minute while barefoot than they did when wearing shoes. They noticed that the runners preferred a rear-foot strike when shod, but shifted to a forefoot strike when running barefoot. The researchers also found favorable improvements in each of the structural measures during the barefoot protocol.

“Because excessive HADD, HIR, and CLPD have been associated with knee injuries in female runners, barefoot running could have potential for injury prevention or treatment in this cohort,”
they concluded.

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Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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